Friday, November 06, 2009

Two Different Views of Healthcare Reform

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi insists that she is going to get a vote on healthcare reform over the weekend but one has to wonder what she thinks she is going to accomplish. According to the Wall Street Journal's John Fund, there are some Democrats who are questioning the wisdom in pushing ahead especially in light of Tuesday's election results:

It's one thing to be serene under fire, it's another to be delusional.

More than a few Democrats in Congress are perplexed and worried that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is insisting on ramming through a 1,900-page health care bill on Saturday, just days after her party took heavy losses in Tuesday's elections. "It reminds me of Major Nicholson, the obsessed British major in the film 'Bridge on the River Kwai,'" one Democrat told me. "She is fixated on finishing her health care bridge even as she's lost sight of where it's going and what damage it could cause to her own troops."

Indeed, the Speaker's take on Tuesday's off-year elections struck some of her own members as delusive "happy talk." "From our perspective, we won last night," a cheerful Ms. Pelosi told reporters, citing her party's pick-up of a single House seat in a New York special election and retention of another strongly Democratic seat in California.

That's not how many of her own troops see it. Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama told that members are "very, very sensitive" to the fact that the agenda being pushed by party leaders has "the potential to cost some of our front-line members their seats"

On health care, added New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell: "People who had weak knees before are going to have weaker knees now."

Meanwhile, Republicans have outlined their own common sense and no-cost reform proposals that actually reform the health insurance system rather than turning the whole thing into another gigantic government bureaucracy.

Speaker Pelosi might just get her wish and see her bill pass the House. Chances are that even if she succeeds to keep enough Democrats together to pass it the bill will undergo vast changes in the Senate. More importantly, passage of a massively complex healthcare bill may fufill Democrats' dreams of government healthcare but it will likely cause so many of their members to lose seats that they could be in the minority for many years to come. The key question will be how many Democrats are willing to risk political suicide for the sake of passing this bill. My guess is not many.

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